HELENA — A recount has confirmed voters approved the Townsend School District’s $18.8 million elementary bond proposal – by an extremely narrow margin of just three votes.
The Townsend school board conducted the recount Monday afternoon. They confirmed 1,041 votes for the bond and 1,038 against it. That matched the results after Broadwater County’s initial canvass of votes last Wednesday.
“For us as a board and a district, that was a pretty important thing – to get the same vote twice, to assure everyone that both the county and the recount board got the same number,” said board chair Jason Noyes.
The bond will pay for a new elementary school in Townsend, replacing the existing building. District leaders say the current elementary school isn’t designed for today’s educational methods, and that it suffers from issues like leaking roofs, an inefficient heating system and poor accessibility.
The measure will also fund renovations in some newer elementary classrooms and the middle school, as well as safety and security upgrades.
Noyes thanked district residents for supporting the bond proposal, especially during a difficult economic time.
“The fact that we were still able to pass that, I think is encouraging – that the support that we had in the project and people getting behind what we set before them,” he said.
He said he’s hopeful they can come up with a plan for the project that will appeal to everyone in the district.
“I still think as we move forward and the project begins to take shape, I think even those that maybe were unsure or voted against it will come to appreciate the scope of the project and the benefit to the entire district as a whole,” he said.
Noyes also said he believes this will be a good time to go forward with a project like this, since interest rates are relatively low.
The district will begin working on the design process for the new elementary school in the summer and fall. Noyes said they plan to hold meetings to get input from community members, students and teachers.
Noyes said the project could go out for bid early next year, and the first construction work could happen as early as May 2021.
The new school will be built on the existing elementary school playground. District leaders’ goal is that the construction will not interfere with current students.